Sex work in the context of sports mega events: Examining the impacts of Rio 2016

Lead Research Organisation: Bournemouth University
Department Name: Faculty of Management

Abstract

Building on our previous work, and combining various disciplinary backgrounds, the aim of this project is to address: a) the spatial regulation of informal sex economies during a sports mega event (SME), b) the normalization of specific sexual identities/practices through these processes, and c) the key challenges this poses for sex-workers.

Research on Olympic cities and those hosting sport mega events has tended to address national identity-making, media representation (often with respect to the narratives of city/nation promoting tourism and investment), and associated landscapes of urban regeneration/gentrification. There has been less academic emphasis on the informal economies that coalesce around such events, with even less of a focus on the relationship between sporting events and urban sexual landscapes. Media speculation often points to heightened demand for sexual services around SMEs (especially in relation to the global trafficking of sex workers). Indeed, these reports are often used to justify policing and other social control measures and rationalise city 'cleansing', displacing sex work from the spaces which become visible to international audiences in the context of a major sporting event. At the same time, event-related construction and road closure can also disrupt established spaces of sex work and street prostitution. In Brazil, and despite the Government actively supporting legalised prostitution, such challenges raise a number of concerns surrounding eviction, loss of community support, loss of worker rights, stigmatization, and the displacement of sexual commerce from the centre to the margins (raising concerns over safety, criminal control, and violence). However, there exists a dearth of relevant scientific data on the sexual landscapes associated with the Olympics or more widely on the impact of large-scale sporting events on vulnerable sex working populations (an omission noted by Deering et al., 2012; Matheson and Finkel, 2014). This project will provide this data by completing the first funded academic study on the impact of the Olympics on sex workers.

Engaging academic and non-academic stakeholders in a collaborative process, the project will hence make an important contribution to understanding the impact of major sporting events on the spaces and practices of sex work. Working with the Observatorio Da Prostituicao (ODP) and NGO Davida in Brazil, data will advance knowledge by exploring how the official promotion of Rio through the Olympics Games is reflected in the construction of new landscapes which might encourage urban gentrification and the removal of sex work from the central city. Building on previous ESRC sponsored research by the applicants, the project will be multi-method, involving content analysis of documentation and media, ethnographic methods including interviews with key stakeholders (clients, sex workers, venue managers, security personnel, local support groups, police, and NGO Davida [a sex workers rights group]). Whilst all studies of sex work come with attendant risk, these are mitigated in this project by drawing on existing collaborations with the ODP that demonstrate the study is feasible and safe, and by drawing on interdisciplinary expertise across the project team.

The project will influence practice, policy and research by producing empirical data documenting the impact of a sporting mega event on sex-working populations. Theoretically, it will contribute to debates surrounding the nature of urban change in a global era, and specifically the links between 'events-led urbanism' and socio-spatial exclusion. Specific outcomes will include localised solutions to key challenges faced by sex workers as well as wider global influence with respect to future research, theorising and policy (e.g. IOC, events organising committees, the Institute for Human Rights and Business). The research will hence be of international significance and importance.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?
Policy Makers: The project will produce new knowledge and evidence about informal sex economies and landscapes related to hosting a SME and with respect to event-led urbanism. This has implications for policy formation in respect to sex work, inclusive regeneration and cohesive communities, human rights and workers rights. In particular, building on established collaborations, charities such as Amnesty International, and global sport governing bodies such as the IOC, and local agencies such as the Public State Archive of Rio De Janiero (Arquivo Público do Estado do Rio de Janeiro), will benefit.

Local Organizing Committees for SMEs: There are numerous SMEs held at various cycles (e.g. FIFA World Cup every four years; Olympics every two years). Each of these, in conjunction with an international governing body (e.g. IOC) are organised by a local committee (host) whom deliver the Games relational to contractual obligations (e.g. regeneration, legacy, increase in physical activity, inclusivity) related to bid documentation. Despite contextual differences, local host organising committees tend to use SMEs as catalysts for urban renewal, promotion of a destination for tourism, and for attracting inward investment. Each will need to plan and produce policy related to informal sex economies and put into practice, in conjunction with charities, support workers, police, local councils and officials, strategies related to policing sex work, protecting human and worker rights, and, legal frameworks regrading trafficking/child prostitution.

NGOs: There are a number of NGOs, both local and international in scope, that work with local, national and international forms of government that have established records in the sex-related industries. In Rio, NGO Davida and the ODP (a project collaborator), and in Brazil more generally (the Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association of Aids and the Brazilian network of Prostitutes), will benefit; the reearch bridges theory/practice in order to meet the diverse needs (support where necessary) of those involved in informal sex economies. Given the integrated nature of the approach, policy/practice can be easily adapted to future host cities.

General Public: The project will impact upon the health, security and safety of members of the general public, initially in Brazil and then adapted to different policy contexts. It will ensure policy frameworks oriented towards the needs, protection, and inclusivity of those who are involved in, who regulate and who frequent informal sex economies.

How will they benefit from the research?
The research will enable policy makers/planners internationally to develop frameworks that a) are evidence based in the development of debates/frameworks through which to consider debates around sex work, sexual landscapes of cities relational to hosting an SME, b) promote inclusivity in event-led urban regeneration, c) strategically put policy into practice in conjunction with a range of agencies so as to support the rights of sex workers and regulate/police practices of a criminal nature (dependent on context) during mega-event planning and construction, d) at a more local level ensure the support and protection of workers rights, sexual health and social support structures, and e) allows future host cities to adequately consider and operationalize policies related to informal sexual economies and SME. There exists scant evidence of 'cleansing' during planning stages (which brings associated human rights/health concerns) and there are exacerbated concerns over sexual health during SMEs; yet there exists no systematic, reliable evidence on which to base policy/practice. As such, hosts re-invent the wheel at each event, there is scant guidance or support. This research seeks to address these problems through bridging the theory/practice/policy gap; a timely contribution given recent scrutiny of sex work by Amnesty International.

Publications

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De Lisio A (2018) Economies of (Alleged) Deviance: Sex Work and the Sport Mega-Event in Sexuality Research and Social Policy

 
Title Activist-Oriented Art Exhibition (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, December 2017) 
Description Exhibition to debut artwork from women involved in sexual commerce during the 2016 mega-event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Exhibition hosted at the Municipal Art Center Hélio Oiticica from December 9, 2017 to February 3, 2018 (see also, https://whatyoudontsee.hotglue.me). The launch of the exhibition will also mark the thirty-year anniversary of the sex workers' rights movement in Brazil, December 10, 2017. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Objective of the event is to create space in which women can curate and share personal stories related to 2016 Olympic realities. Most likely attended by those involved in sex worker reform (agencies, allies, etc.) as well as those interested in issues related to civil liberties and human (sexual) rights. To monitor/measure impact, we plan to track responses on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) through a common hashtag. The hashtag (e.g., #sxspaces #seeme #vejame #sexpaços) will be well-advertised in print material and the "Beijo da Rua / Kiss from the Street" newsletter distributed in Portuguese and English to targeted groups (e.g., Red Umbrella Campaign, Global Alliance Against Trafficking Women, PIVOT Legal, etc.). 
 
Title Dhert, D.B.J. & De Lisio, A. (TBD). "Photo-Booth" installation contrived from audiovisual data collected in the field to be submitted to galleries in Canada, Belgium, England, and Brazil 
Description Dhert, D.B.J. & De Lisio, A. (TBD). "Photo-Booth" installation contrived from audiovisual data collected in the field to be submitted to galleries in Canada, Belgium, England, and Brazil 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact "Photo-Booth" installation contrived from audiovisual data collected in the field to be submitted to galleries in Canada, Belgium, England, and Brazil 
 
Description Through the collection and analysis of ethnographic data (i.e., participant observation, interview, document analysis), and collaboration with the Prostitution Policy Watch (Observatório da Prostituição) at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. As part of the collaboration we work with allies in academia (e.g. the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Fluminense Federal University, the Gender Studies Centre at the State University of Campinas, the Mailman School of Public Health and Faculty of Law at Columbia University, and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Williams College) and the broader public/activist sphere (Davida: Prostitution, Civil Rights, and Health, ABIA: Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association of AIDS, and the Brazilian Network of Prostitutes), the project examined the problematic connection between sport and sexual commerce. The project has revealed that any attempt to curb human trafficking must involve those directly targeted in action. While media is quick to circulate stories of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced prostitution related to the sport mega-event, no such case was reported in conjunction with the 2016 Summer Olympics and/or 2014 FIFA World Cup. At the same time, fear of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation has ignored the question of forced labour and exploitation (more broadly defined) as observed in the construction of sport stadia and in the cultivation of athletic talent. This particular finding led to the creation of a report submitted to the UN Universal Periodic Review, which detailed the harsh realities of local women, worsened in FIFA/IOC construction-construction that was legitimized in an alleged yet unfounded sex trafficking claim. Due to the report, one Brazilian sex worker (particularly afflicted in 2014 urban reform) was invited to attend the UN General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 2016. Celebrated for her activism, she discussed the state-sanctioned eviction of 120 women from an (in)famous venue of commercial sex. The contribution to the UN Assembly, reasserted the need for empirical evidence in the creation and execution of policies and/or strategies that intend to-and indeed can-aid those most in need. Subsequently, the UN-UPR referenced this report in a document (UN-UPR Summary and Final Report, Human Rights Council, A/HRC/WG.6/27/BRA/3, February 2017) used to inform a recommendation list. Based on our submission, and other submissions from multiple stakeholders, we are especially pleased that the UN-UPR recommended in their report (UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal periodic review, Brazil, A/HRC/36/11 July, 2017) that Brazilian authorities: ? Improve underreporting of sexual violence/harassment, and develop policies to punish and prevent such illegalities (136.66-67); ? Protect human rights defenders and their families through the implementation of a National Programme, Policy and/or Plan (136.113-123); and ? Combat (police) violence against women through capacity-building programmes (training and appropriate resources/protocols) for all legal personnel (136.189-194). The UN report was examined and responded to by the Federative Republic of Brazil prior to the thirty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council. In September 2017, the Federative Republic of Brazil demonstrated the manner in which each recommendation would be enacted into federal law (UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Brazil, A/HRC/36/11/Add.1, September 2017). Most notably, and as insisted in our initial report, was the stated commitment to: ? Integrate human rights education into school curricula (136.67, Bill No. 6,424/2013); ? Maintain the Program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (136.114); and ? Install Casas da Mulher Brasileira [Houses of the Brazilian Women] in the 27 federative units, as well as an awareness campaign and hotline, Disque 180 [Dial 180], to report cases of violence against women (136.181, Law No: 11,340). Although previous research has discussed the extent to which unfounded and misguided fear in human trafficking can rationalize urban removal, sell sensationalist sex stories, and legitimate violent "security" action, this project examined the impact of this moral panic on local women and children to demonstrate the actually-lived realities of those most marginalized and silenced in globally-celebrated cities. From the collection of ethnographic data it has thus become important to ensure that any anti-trafficking effort does more to protect than harm. From this perspective, we wrote a piece for The Conversation entitled, "After the Olympic: Stories from Rio's Sex Workers" that was read by approximately 51,000 people (republished by Yahoo News). This article offered a counter narrative to victim/deviant discourse. With respect to creative output, a photo project, "What You Don't See / O Que Você Não Vê" that formed part of our research invited women involved in sexual commerce amidst the 2016 Olympic event to visually-document everyday life. The photo project was curated into an exhibition for the Hélio Oiticica Municipal Art Centre in Rio de Janeiro, which was displayed from December 2017 to February 2018. More than 2000 people came to see the exhibition. We wrote about the 30-year sex work movement in Brazil and the culmination of this exhibition in a second article submitted to The Conversation, which had a readership of approximately 17,000 (also republished by Yahoo News). The photo exhibition has since been converted into a short film (https://youtu.be/RIcC7qN8oHg) which debuted at the MoMA PS1 Sex Workers' Festival of Resistance in New York City. The Festival was attended by approximately 1000 people on March 4, 2018-all of whom received a newsletter that detailed Olympic stories as told by those directly involved in sexual commerce as well as brochure regarding the photo project, with link to the virtual exhibition (http://whatyoudontsee.hotglue.me). This exhibition will also be made into a silent auction hosted at the 14th International Conference of the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA) in Rio de Janeiro (July 2018) and at our end event in London, England (October 2018). This has enabled us to share evidence-based and participant-authored stories that, based in evidence, challenge dominant sensibilities related to the profession.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Citation in UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal periodic review, Brazil, A/HRC/36/11 July, 2017, and N General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Brazil, A/HRC/36/11/Add.1, September 2017
Geographic Reach South America 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact The UN report was examined and responded to by the Federative Republic of Brazil, prior to the thirty-sixth session of the Human Rights Council. The Federative Republic of Brazil (UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Brazil, A/HRC/36/11/Add.1, September 2017) will enact into law: most notably, and as insisted in our initial report, was the stated commitment to: (i) Integrate human rights education into school curricula (136.67, Bill No. 6,424/2013); (ii) Maintain the Program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (136.114); and (iii) Install Casas da Mulher Brasileira [Houses of the Brazilian Women] in the 27 federative units, as well as an awareness campaign and hotline, Disque 180 [Dial 180], to report cases of violence against women (136.181, Law No: 11,340).
URL http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?c=26&su=37
 
Description
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact -
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description De Lisio, A. (April 2018). "On Qualitative Research and Sociological Imagination" for APA 6924: Graduate Seminar, Ottawa University, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Human Kinetics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact De Lisio, A. (April 2018). "On Qualitative Research and Sociological Imagination" for APA 6924: Graduate Seminar, Ottawa University, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Human Kinetics
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description De Lisio, A. (October 2017). "Fieldwork on/in Urban Spaces" for KPE305: Geographies of Health in Physical Cultures, University of Toronto, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact De Lisio, A. (October 2017). "Fieldwork on/in Urban Spaces" for KPE305: Geographies of Health in Physical Cultures, University of Toronto, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description De Lisio, A. (October 2017). "So Now What? Life After the Dissertation" for the Media and Motion Professional Development Club, Dr. M. MacNeill, University of Toronto, Department of Exercise Sciences 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact De Lisio, A. (October 2017). "So Now What? Life After the Dissertation" for the Media and Motion Professional Development Club, Dr. M. MacNeill, University of Toronto, Department of Exercise Sciences
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Dhert, D.B.J., De Lisio, A. & Silk, M. (TBD). "We Must Be Dreaming" documentary film screening and roundtable discussion for the Citizen Lab, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dhert, D.B.J., De Lisio, A. & Silk, M. (TBD). "We Must Be Dreaming" documentary film screening and roundtable discussion for the Citizen Lab, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Festival of Learning 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 1. Film Screening of "We Must Be Dreaming" with Director David Bert Joris Dhert
UK-debut of the latest work from Belgium Director, David Bert Joris Dhert, this film will reveal the everyday realities of three people imbricated in mega-event construction in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Post-film, Professor Michael Silk, Research Fellow Dr. Amanda De Lisio, and Prostitution Policy Watch Fellow, Dr. Laura Murray will partake in an audience-led discussion with Director David Bert Joris Dhert. Whilst audience-led, this conversation will be cautious to include possibilities for future host cities, particularly for those within the urban shadow.
2. "What You Don't See" Exhibition and "Photo-Booth" Installation
The exhibition and art installation will reveal everyday realities of host women involved in adult, consensual sex work, amidst the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The exhibition will share the photographic work of local women, done in documentation of everyday life mid-event. The "photo-booth" installation will share audio data recorded in conversation with women, as supplement to visual data.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Online dissemination 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Hashtag: #sxspaces #seeme #vejame #sexpaços

Website: http://sexualspacesproject.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SexSpaces

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sxspaces/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sxspaces/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Research Symposium (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This event is aimed at sharing research and discuss potential policy reform with those employed at the municipal, provincial, and federal level-audience to be coordinated with Dr. Thaddeus Blanchette and Davida/Daspu.

(a) BRASA Conference exhibition and silent auction of "What They Don't See" (July 25-8)
(b) Public launch of OdP/ESRC Olympic report at Casa Nem (Sat. July 28)
(c) Symposium at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Mon. August 1)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Research Symposium and Final Exposé (London, England, September 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Event is imagined as a symposium that will invite interested sex worker agencies/allies from former and future host cities to discuss the impact of accelerated event-led construction on sexual commerce-however it will not be limited to those living/working in host communities! The local audience will also include those involved in sex work as a worker, client, activist, academic, etc. in the UK-anyone that can learn from, and contribute to, a discussion regarding gentrification, tourism, urban (il)legalities, and transnational economies of desire.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018